In order to continue to write about my journey to a smaller waistline, I believe I need to tell you where I started.
Stepping on the scale and seeing a number approaching 350 pounds was both scary and depressing. So was realizing that I was a half a pizza and pint of ice cream away from being closer to 400 pounds, as was admitting that my size 48-inch pants didn’t fit.
I had entered the world of shopping only at Big and Tall-type places, and then still at times was struggling to find what to wear even at that type of store and outlet. My choices were $225 button-down shirts or velour tracksuits with elastic waistbands—kind of the lesser of two evils.
This past October, after some gentle pressure from my wife, and with the realization that one of my best friends with a much smaller waistline than me was hours from a major heart attack, I scheduled my bi–yearly physical.
I find that most doctors today don’t speak to us, but rather to the body part that ails us. My doctor, Alan Fein in Southampton, is different. He’s a relic—close to being the family doctor you remember as a child, the type that hardly seems to exist anymore. He’s not a specialist, his specialty is speaking candidly and openly to his patients about any ailment, issue, weight problem, recipe, etc. that might be on the agenda that day. He is willing to go to his big library of books if further explanation on an ailment is needed. And he really cares for his patients.
When I walked into Mr. Fein’s office in November and went in for my blood work, I noticed a major difference in Dr. Fein’s appearance. He was much slimmer than he was on my last visit, he had some serious pep in his step and had the look of someone who was feeling really good about himself.
Without any prying, Dr. Fein brought up to me that he was a recent graduate of the Wellness Challenge. This particular challenge has been set up locally to educate and challenge folks to give up the standard American diet for seven weeks and to give a try to a strong plant-based diet that eliminates all meat, dairy and seafood. Beyond vegan, the diet demands that the foods that enter our bodies have enough nutrients to justify the caloric intake.
Dr. Fein told me how pleased he was with his progress: how he had cut his blood sugar by a third, was off his blood pressure medicine, and was now eating the three bean chili at Publick House rather than the blue plate special. His news encouraged me and he suggested that I should give it a try as I was a perfect candidate: overweight, bordering on having blood pressure issues and staring at diabetes in my future if I did not change.
My doctor told me how it wasn’t easy, though. He said that he even allowed himself a small piece of cheese or bite of chicken here or there, but that he had stuck with the diet after the challenge ended and felt great for it.
I figured why not. I would sign up and do the winter wellness challenge. My wife and I began the challenge approximately four weeks ago and it has really jump-started our goals. I have lost just over 20 pounds to date, have completely given up diet soda, and feel much more energetic.
I feel I am making changes to my diet that I can institute and live with for the rest of my life. It has not been all easy changes, but it has been much easier having a partner doing it with me.
I have had my moments of weakness and had some foods I missed. Pizza is the one food I don’t think will ever leave me forever—it’s my Thursday night treat after Weight Watchers.
I have approximately three weeks left on the challenge am excited to see the changes in my blood work. I realize that for the rest of my life I should at least strive to be more than a part-time “nutritarian.” Weight loss is my encouragement, better health is the bonus.
My goal is shooting to be down to 275 pounds by June 23. Beyond that, when I defend my clam-shucking title in September, I should be lighter than when I won it when I was 30 years old.